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Shaping Europe’s digital future

EU proposes new rules for Gigabit connectivity

The Commission reviewed the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive and proposed the Gigabit Infrastructure Act for the quick rollout of Gigabit connectivity.

    Copper wires

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There is a rising demand for digital technology and more innovative tools, services and solutions. They will depend on the availability of faster, more reliable, data-intense connections. The proposed rules will support the 2030 Digital Decade target on connectivity, which aims to ensure everyone across the EU has access to fast Gigabit connectivity and fast mobile data by 2030.

The Commission reviewed the 2014 Broadband Cost Reduction Directive and submitted the Gigabit Infrastructure Act in its place. The new act will update the rules to ensure faster, cheaper and simpler rollout of Gigabit networks and tackle the main challenges standing in the way of network rollout: costly and cumbersome procedures for network deployment.

The proposed Gigabit Infrastructure Act aims to:

  • reduce and simplify procedures for operators to access existing physical infrastructure, allowing them to re-use infrastructure for quicker network deployment
  • reduce delays for permit-granting and dispute resolution
  • ensure more coordination of civil works between electronic communications operators and operators of other networks like gas, water, electricity, and transport
  • set up digitised administrative procedures for operators rolling out gigabit networks
  • bring fibre inside every new or majorly renovated building

The revised rules will build upon the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive, which remains in force until the co-legislators adopt the Gigabit Infrastructure Act:

Permit Granting

Laying down fibre cables can prove time-consuming and costly. By setting up a Single Information Point, operators can access all relevant information and procedures and submit applications for civil works with a view on deploying high-speed communication networks. In any event, unless national law specifically provides otherwise, any permit decision should be made within four months, save for exceptional circumstances, from the receipt of a complete permit request. Any refusal should be justified based on objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria.

Coordination of civil works

The rules enable network providers to coordinate civil works creating greater opportunities for shared deployment between sectors, as well as within the electronic communications sector.

In order to facilitate coordination, any network operator should make available, upon specific written request, or via a Single Information Point or other publicly available means, the following minimum information related to its on-going or planned civil works:

  • the location and type of works
  • the network elements involved
  • the estimated starting date and duration of works, and
  • a contact point

Additional obligations apply to network operators for projects fully or partly financed by public means: these operators have to meet any reasonable request for coordination of works, provided that it does not entail any additional costs, does not impede control over the coordination of the works and the request is filed in due time.

Access to existing physical infrastructure

Access to existing physical infrastructure minimises the costs and accelerates the deployment of high-speed networks. It can also benefit companies allowing significant savings as compared to excavating afresh.

According to the Directive, network operators (electronic communication, energy utilities, etc.) are to give access to their physical infrastructure (e.g. ducts, manholes, cabinets, poles) to network providers rolling out high-speed broadband under fair and reasonable terms and conditions, including price.

To do this in a transparent way, network providers have the right to access minimum information, upon request, regarding:

  • location and route
  • type and current use of the infrastructure and
  • a contact point.

This information should be made available by network operators upon request, if not already available through the Single Information Point, and by public sector bodies holding this information. Member States may also require these public sector bodies to proactively make the information available via the Single Information Point. However, if accessing this information could cause a security issue Member States can limit access.

Infrastructure inside buildings

The rules ensure high-speed-ready, accessible in-building physical infrastructure in all newly constructed and majorly renovated buildings. This reduces the cost and disruption of having to deploy this infrastructure at a later stage.

To achieve this objective, any buildings issuing permits must be equipped with:

  • in-building physical infrastructure up to the network termination point, such as mini-ducts capable of hosting high-speed networks, and
  • for multi-dwelling buildings, an easily accessible access point for the providers of public communications networks who wish to terminate their networks at the premises of the subscriber

Once a building reaches these standards, they are eligible to receive the voluntary “broadband-ready” label. Exemptions can occur for certain types of buildings (military, monuments) or cost.

Every network provider shall have the right to access any in-building physical infrastructure under fair and non-discriminatory terms and conditions, if duplication is technically impossible or economically inefficient.

For buildings not equipped with high-speed-ready in-building infrastructure, network providers can terminate its network at the premises of the subscriber subject to the subscriber's agreement and provided that it minimises the impact on the property of third parties.


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